Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Teenagers and Ethics

Here's the headline:  "American teens lie, steal, cheat at 'alarming' rates."  A study by Josephson Institute surveyed a bunch of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, and found that the already-high rates of unethical behavior are even higher today than two years ago.  *sigh*

If you read through the article, it talks about increasing numbers of kids lying to parents.  That number, well, kids have been lying to their parents for millenia.  But more alarming is the finding that 30% of kids reported stealing from a store within the past year.  Nearly one-in-three.  To me that speaks to a huge sense of entitlement.  Also, my parents would have KILLED me and then died of mortification themselves had I been caught doing something like this.  So there seems to be no fear, no respect for boundaries or rules, from a very large minority.

Finally, cheating in school.  I used to do my friends' French homework because I really enjoyed French.  But I only have one experience with test cheating (in college), and I was being cheated from...the girl next to me kept trying to look at my paper.  I got so mad that I went and told the professor.  Anyway.  There seems to be no fear, and a sense that as long as everything looks fine (like a good grade) it doesn't really matter if the look reflects reality.

The end of the article tells the rest of the story:
Some 93 percent of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77 percent saying that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."
All of the proponents of self-esteem education have gotten their wish:  an entire population who thinks very highly of themselves.  It also sounds like they have a low view of their peers--"I might be bad but most people I know are worse." 

I think we need to give our kids more opportunities to fail, to pick themselves up and become resilient.  Having some experience with low grades, getting caught, getting in trouble...these aren't the end of the world.  If a person can't deal with these things, how in the world will they deal with the life events that truly are bad?


ZipperTPartee said...

Nail on the head, Cheryl. Self Esteem Gone Wild. I am special just because I am me. Our churches haven't helped any, they just reinforce the fact that we are all children of God, we should love all (and all that we/they do) with very little emphasis on works.

Adults (parents) brought this whole culture on themselves. "Don't ever let Johnny or Susie feel bad about anything that they do or feel". It's not lack of discipline in the schools (although I would love to see some) it's the feeling by your kid that the school penalty is nothing compared to what your old man is gonna do to you when you get home.

CastoCreations said...

but..but..but they're just widdle kids and we don't want to hurt their widdle feewings.


The whole sense of entitlement makes me ill.

I admit ... I stole change my grandpa but I ended up returning it and apologizing. The guilt was horrendous. I also did cheat a couple of times in high school ... not because I needed to but because we tended to have collective assignments and it was easy. But it was still wrong.

The survey was quite frightening. All the parents who think their perfect little darling would never do a bad thing need to wake up.